Monday, December 01, 2014

Mother Mountain/Northern Loop October 11/12 2014

The Mother mountain/Northern Loop figure 8 was a part of Ultrapedestrian RAS Wilderness adventure Blogging Challenge.  This Blog is the final requirement.  This year he had three challenges.  The other was a hike down the coast which I didn't have time to do and the other was a hike around the I-90 corridor and Alpine Lakes Wilderness which was too long and i am not real interested in terraine around I-90.

This challenge was created by Kathy and utilizes part of the wonderland trail, Mother Mountain loop and Northern loop which are located on the Norht side of Mt. Rainier,  Participants are allow to start wherever they choose and go in any direction they choose but must do a figure 8, start/finish in same location, all under human power.

The Start
We drove up Friday night and slept in the back of the family SUV in the Mowich Lake Parking area.  I had considered starting at Carbon River and riding my bike up to Ipsut Creek as a starting point or starting from Sunrise.  However, the added distance and complexity this late in the season ruled those options out.

We brought some pizza with us and a few beers for the evening meal. We saved some for when we got back.  I told my 18yr old son what to bring.  I brought him along to keep me company.  I figured he could keep up with a 49 year old man.  Pretty simple list

Stuff I had for both of us

2 Kelty light year 3d 25degree bags (not really good to 25)
2 thermarest prolite full length inflatable pads
1 tent – not sure what kind.  It weighs about 4 pounds and is called a 2.5 man
Pocket rocket, some fuel and a pan
2 adventures racing large packs – old and beat up 1 saloman raid and one Gregory advent pro
Vasque light hiking shoes (think they are breeze)
First aid kit
Suunto T6

Stuff I told my son to bring and I brought for me

Fleece hat
Base shirt
Heavy fleece top
Good rain coat
And shorts
Good socks

Food we brought:
Subway sandwiches
Mountain house meals
Fruit cups
Pop Tarts
Swedish fish
Fresh fruit
Instant oatmeal
Tuna and tortillas
Other misc. snacks

My plan was to fast hike, sleep at night, and eat well.  Sorry Ras no dried beans for me.  I could hike straight through but I want to take everything is as I hike.  The figure 8 was clockwise mother/counterclockwise northern loops.

We got off at about 8AM on Saturday.  I am really not a morning person.  It would have been better if we got off a bit earlier.  I saw my son was wearing a lightweight long sleeve base layer and I told him that I hoped that wasn’t his heavy fleece.  It was, but it was too late to go back. 

Ipsut Pass
We wouldn’t see anybody this day.  It was a nice hike up to Ipsut Pass; BTW it is spelled wrong on the map, and down to the Carbon River.  Last time I was at the Carbon, we drove up to the end of the road and made an unsuccessful attempt at Rainier via the Winthrop glacier.  The goal for today was to reach Lake James Camp about 30 miles which would leave up about 15 for the following day.

The weather was nice and we began the first climb of the day up to Mystic Lake.  As we reached the high point on the way to the lake, the weather closed in and it began to blow and rain.  I told him it was time to put on our rain coats.  He busted out a dragonfly like ultralight windbreaker.  Once again I asked hopefully that this wasn’t his good rain coat.  It was and this is where crap started going sideways.  We got down to the mystic lake ranger station porch where it was dry and ate our lunch.  We did not have any good options that included:

Stay put and pitch our tent
Carbon Glacier Terminus
Go back
Continue on as planned
Head for Sunrise

Mathew was soaked.  I put a plastic garbage bag on him and we pushed on.  Sunrise was the closest out and if we continued, we could decide to bail when we got to the trail junction.  The weather was building as we headed for the highest point on our route.  Meanwhile there were tornadoes in the lowlands that day.

The Calm before the storm coming into Mystic Lake
Up and over Skyscraper pass and into Berkley Park.  Heavy sideways snow with 40-50 mph steady winds.  I was good in my arc’teryx heavy fleece and raincoat but Mathew was not in a good way.  We reached the bail out to Sunrise at about 3-4PM.  It would have been 3-4 miles of more exposed hiking to I do not know what.  I did not know if there would be shelter or even anybody there or a phone.  Since I have never been there before, I was afraid that we could end up there with no shelter or way to get a ride and left exposed on a ridge.  Does anybody know, is there a lodge there?

I decided to head down into Berkeley camp.  It was significantly lower and in a treed valley where there was shelter from the wind and elements.  We pushed down fast.  Without the climbing, it was not possible for Mathew to stay warm.

We arrived at the camp and we quickly worked to set up our tent in the blowing wind.  This was a chore and caused is to relocate a few times.  Once the tent was up, I had Mathew strip his wet clothes and get in the tent in a dry sleeping bag.  We were done for the day.  There was going to be no way to dry his clothes.  I wringed them out as best I could and put them under the rain fly.  His clothes would not dry and if the weather didn’t get better, we might be here a while.  Mathew shivered and I boiled hot water for drinks and food and for a water bottle in his sleeping bag.

Now it was howling and raining sideways.  I was uncomfortable but since I had good gear, I could cook, get water, and get set up for the night.  Most of you know that when we go out together we talk about gear and what we are bringing.  We have a common understanding and do not need to check each other’s gear.  I have been out on adventures with my son and generally thought him responsible and therefore didn’t do a pack check.  This was a mistake in hindsight.

The wind and rain pounded most of the night.  I could hear large rock fall all night long.  I have never heard that much rock fall before.  As we were in a narrow steep canyon, it was a bit unnerving.  The next morning we woke up to clear cold skies.

Day 2 Grand Park
Wet clothes awaited Mathew as punishment for his poor gear choices.  We ate and packed as quickly as we could and got going.  The only way to stay warm would be to start working.  We worked our way down the valley and out onto Grand Park.  This was very nice and now that it was sunny we took time to enjoy the views.

We were now in the heart of the Northern loop, down to the Winthrop/West fork White and up to windy gap.  This was all very nice but I could tell that my son was starting to lag.  Beautiful sub alpine hike up to Windy Pass and down and out toward Yellowstone Cliffs were we saw some mountain goats.  We got back down to the carbon and stopped for lunch.  I could tell the he was getting tired but we had to push on if we were going to finish before dark. 

Going up to Windy Pass
On our way up to Seattle and Spray Parks, I would get into my heavy breathing rhythm.  This is kinda my AR trekking pass where I am pushing just at my heavy breathing limit.  Everytime I did, Mathew would ask for a rest.  I need to listen to my breathing and when it became labored, I backed off.  This climb was just another Si in my mind.

The Parks opened up in front of us.  Beautiful sub-alpine hiking.  Unfortunately, the weather was moving in again and it was getting late.  We needed to push hard into the fading light.  Unfortunately since we were not planning on hiking at night, I left my good light at home.  We rolled into Mowich about 8:30PM to eat leftover pizza and beer.

Crossing back over the Carbon River
Day 1
Time 8:20
Mileage 22.5 about
Climb 6600

Day 2
Time 10:43
Mileage 22.5 about
Climb 7300

The Finish
Trail Time 19:03 (time different than GPS because I fire it up before we leave camp)
Start to finish time about 36hrs
Mileage 44.3 about
Climb 13,900

Pictures can be found Here and I will add some to this post later

No comments: